Champagne Afternoon Tea and a Tour of Highgrove Gardens
Before my visit to Highgrove Gardens, I figured I knew what to expect. I’ve visited many of the truly wonderful gardens in the Cotswolds, and I have appreciated the beauty, the natural spaces and being surrounded by the life of a garden. And Highgrove, the private gardens of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, are all of those things as well, but there is another dimension to them, a quality that is hard to explain.
Words to do the talking
Now, ordinarily, I like to explain myself in images, share the feel and mood of a place through the images I’ve taken during my experience, but as photography is not allowed anywhere on Highgrove for security reasons, words will have to do all the talking this time.
A garden of imagination
So what is that special quality that sets Highgrove Gardens apart from others? I thought about this as I enjoyed the lovely tour and I came to the conclusion that the magic of these gardens must be the spirit with which they have been, and are being created by HRH The Prince of Wales. Because you might think that a garden created by a Prince in the grounds of a royal estate would be grander than most, but it isn’t that. These gardens are all created with imagination and passion by the Prince over more than 35 years, and every tree, plant, flower and sculpture in it reflect his deep commitment to sustainability, as well as a natural artistic ability.
Highgrove Gardens are a series of interlinked organic spaces, all havens for a rich variety of flora and fauna and all developed to not only please the eye, but to sit in succinct harmony with nature. The presence of HRH The Prince of Wales and the presence of his family, his values and his story is all over the gardens, and with the friendly and knowledgeable tour guides sharing stories and anecdotes throughout the tour, you come away feeling that you truly know and understand the story of this magical place.
We were lucky enough to be invited on one of the two-hour tours with an expert guide who walked and talked us through the stories behind the estate, shared with us little stories of how the gardens are used now, how the produce is harvested and turned into products and produce. On the day we visited, the sun was shining and it was a wonderful warm and dry day.
The perfect finish
At the end of the tour, we were served a delicious and luxurious afternoon tea with champagne in the setting of the lovely Orchard Restaurant, a wonderful experience made even better by the resident pianist providing a delightful musical accompaniment that was the perfect soundtrack to a perfect end to a perfect day.
Champagne Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea was a delectable selection of sandwiches and cakes, along with a glass of lovely Highgrove Champagne. We left full and happy from the afternoon tea as well as the garden experience, one we will not forget for a very, very long time.
The gift of no photography
As you enter Highgrove, a sign says “Beware, you are now entering an old fashioned establishment”, basically meaning “No phones, no cameras, no photography”. The restriction on photography was incredibly frustrating at first. When you’re used to documenting almost everything you do through photography, it feels almost unnatural to experience something so beautiful and incredibly special and not be able to capture it, but what started as frustration, quickly turned into appreciation, because when you don’t feel the constant need to take pictures, all you’re left with is the experience and at Highgrove, that is a wonderful gift for sure.
The beautiful gift shop
As you leave Highgrove, you do so through the gift shop, a shopping experience on another level. Every item in this shop is linked in some way to the gardens or the HRH The Prince of Wales, everything is quality and luxury and I dare you to go through and not want to buy at least half the shop.
Do note that shopping at the Highgrove Shop can also be experienced in their even larger and equally wonderful shopping destination in Tetbury town centre down the road from the estate, so if you’re not visiting Highgrove on a tour, you can still get a little bit of the experience here.
A memorable experience
The Champagne Afternoon Tea Tour at Highgrove Gardens is among the very best experiences I’ve had in the Cotswolds. Whether you’re a garden enthusiast or not, a visit and a tour at Highgrove Gardens is a fantastic experience for you to treat yourself with or as a gift for someone you care about. The Champagne Afternoon Tea Tour costs £79.95 per person or £155 per couple; gift vouchers are available. Book your own memorable experience on www.highgrovegardens.com/events-at-highgrove/
*All images from the gardens are courtesy of the Highgrove Estate.